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Title:  Partner
Rating:  G
Fandom:  Ensemble Stars
Character(s):  Anzu, Akehoshi Subaru, Sakasaki Natsume
Summary:  Partner weapons and blacksmiths and baggage.  Living Weapons AU.
Warning(s):  None

The weapon that Anzu is given to restore, requested by the Sakasaki family, is a brittle looking blade gone dull.  The edge looks chipped, and the shine gone, with the hilt in need of desperate repair.  What catches her eye, however, are the colors she can barely spy through the wear and tear of the years are the brilliant splashes of red she’s seen decorating the shaft of the spear Subaru calls his original body.  The same crest that Subaru had stares back at her near the base of the blade, near where the tang is inserted into the hilt.


“...Father,” she starts, turning her gaze back up to him, “why does the Sakasaki blade share Subaru’s crest?”


Her father stays silent, his arms crossed.


Anzu still stares at the blade and its crest, at the worn colors and ragged blade that holds a familiar craftsmanship to the weapons her own family makes.  It’s all too easy to piece together the puzzle presented to her.  She just needs confirmation from her own father.


“Originally, our house and the Sakasaki house used to be one--the Sakasakis pursued the path of the hunter, we pursued the path of the blacksmith,” her father says.  “Subaru and this blade are partner weapons.  They work best when together.”


Subaru...had told her nothing.  When he had first approached her, he had presented himself as just...Subaru.


A simple spear, nothing special about him.


“This will be a test of your skill, Anzu,” her father continues.  “To properly repair this blade, you will need to talk with Subaru and negotiate.”


“...for what?”


“For a bit of his energy.  Even if we use purified energy from what the Hasumis have given us, a partner weapon is useless without energy from the other half.”


“It seems...unnecessary.”


“Partner weapons are fickle things, Anzu.  They are not made from the same material--the bond they share is different.”


Anzu picks up the weapon from where it sits, running her fingers across it.  There’s still the soft hum of magic beneath her fingertips, of a life that has refused to wither away into nothing despite the burden of time.  This is to be a test of her skills, her father had said, but she feels it is more than that.


With a bow, she stands up, blade tucked under her arm.  Her father says nothing, and when she opens the door her mother steps back in surprise, Shinobu clinging to her.


“I will succeed,” is all Anzu tells them.


It is when she returns to her forge, Subaru already waiting for her, does she feel her resolve waver.


“You didn’t tell me you were part of a pair,” she says.  There’s no accusations in her tone.  There is no sadness or betrayal, just the regular lilt and fall of her voice.  


Subaru shrugs, “It wasn’t important, y’know?  Ahaha, it’s been so long--”


He stiffens as Anzu places the blade down.


“Subaru-kun,” Anzu starts, “you knew from the start.  Tell me, what is your partner’s name?”


There’s a long stretch of silence, Subaru’s feet kicking mindlessly at the air as he leans back on the table.  Anzu is patient--she has all the time in the world, there had been no set date.  If the first step is to negotiate with Subaru then she will take as much time as she needs to.


The clock keeps ticking in the background, and Subaru remains silent.


“...Natsume.”


The name comes suddenly.


Subaru continues, “His name is Natsume.  He is strong--incredibly strong.  Together, we made sure our hunter never failed in killing Malice.”  Then what happened, is what Anzu wants to ask next.  Why did you leave?  Why did you lie?


“Maybe I just got jealous, or maybe I just didn’t understand, but Natsume...he got...I left.  I left.”


He shrugs.


“So you left, and ended up in the care of my family.”


“I don’t like hunters, y’know.  But Anzu is different and...maybe Natsume will forgive me.”


“I think so too,” she says.  It’s all that’s needed to be said.  Subaru doesn’t add on any of his usual words or flair, simply sliding off the table to stop in front of her.  He reaches into the folds of his clothing, pulling out a small token and placing it in her palm.


“You can do it, Anzu-chan!” he grins, but the smile doesn’t reach his eyes.


It’s only her and the forge when Subaru leaves.  The token rests heavy in her palm, but she pushes the weight aside and gets to work.  She salvages what she can, reforging the blade anew, and the rings of her work echo throughout the house.  At one point Shinobu comes in, a tray of tea and snacks from the kitchen in hand, but she quickly ropes him in.


By the time night has rolled in, the moon high in the sky and watching her, Anzu is almost done.  Energy has been added, and the last piece, the token, she stares at.  It’s the last piece, the one that will wake Natsume up with the energy that partner weapons need.  


Her hands are quick as she starts braiding the cord that will tie the token onto the weapon.  Rich colors of red and white, curling on in each other, with the briefest glimmer of gold.  Beads of jade are threaded in, and then the token.  By the time she’s done, it’s almost daylight.  She can hear the birds, the beginnings of people moving through the house.


Shinobu has long since curled up “asleep” at her side, but he stirs when she moves.


“Is it done?” he asks.


“Yes, I just need to put in the last ch--”


She can’t finish speaking.  A cold hand around her neck stops any words, and her hands fly up on instinct.  But a human’s strength can’t compare to that of a weapon’s, and it takes Shinobu blindly lashing out in a panic to let her stumble free.  


“Who are You.”


The voice is nothing like Anzu expected from a weapon by the name of Natsume, nothing like a weapon that is partnered to Subaru.


“A-Anzu,” she answers, voice raspy.  “I repaired you.”


“Repaired me?”


There’s a brief narrowing of eyes, calculating and cold, but Natsume’s attention swiftly changes to the token that hangs from one of his sleeves.  He stares at it, trying to gauge what it is.


“That’s what helped,” Anzu continues.  “Subaru gave it--”


The reaction is instant.  Natsume’s hand grasps the small token and he starts tugging, expression caught between rage and grief.  She has to lunge forward and stop him--or attempt to--because if he rips that off then he’ll be nothing like he is.  


An empty husk, a weapon in design only.


“P-please!” she cries out.  “You just woke up!”


“What if I did not want to be woken Up?  What if I slept for a reason...Baru-kun thinks he can--”


“What’s going on!?” Subaru comes in at that moment, his appearance bringing a tentative calm.  His eyes take in Natsume, take in the tight grip he has on the token and Anzu’s own grip on his arm.  “...Natsume,” the smile on Subaru’s face seems forced, “it’s been so long.”


Natsume scoffs, “Don’t put that Look on, Baru-kun.  You’re not happy at all.”


“But I am!  You can feel it, right?”


“Feel what?” the sneer in Natsume’s voice is thick.  “Baru-kun, I can’t Feel what I don’t Want.  When you left, it was clear as Day.”


Anzu’s shaking as she drops to the floor, staring between these two weapons.  When her father had asked her to repair Natsume, and had told her that it would be a test of her skills, she hadn’t expected it quite like this.

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